Arun Ramakrishnan, PhD, does not shy away from a challenge. He embraces them and is always willing to show up, roll up his sleeves and work with others until a solution is found. No matter what he is working on, Ramakrishnan brings humanity across his many roles.
What’s unique about his approach is that Ramakrishnan, the director of research labs at the College, looks at problems through the lens of an engineer. “I'm primarily focused on developing healthcare solutions and providing technical help for projects that could use my expertise,” he said. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Ramakrishnan lent his expertise to the University’s interdisciplinary team to make face shields for healthcare workers that were in very short supply. He helped create a new headband design that offers better protection, durability and comfort.
This collaboration has supplied more than 35,000 AJ Flex Shields, some of which he 3-D printed at home, across the United States and in India when cases skyrocketed last spring.
Ramakrishnan is also working with faculty to create immersive virtual reality (VR) environments that elevated the classroom experience. “The ability to go into different worlds is exciting and can be used in so many different applications, including teaching and clinical practice,” he explained. He and other researchers at the college are studying the effects virtual and augmented realities have on stress, anxiety and physical and mental wellbeing and addressing complex and systemic concerns.